Rawhide Down by Del Quentin Wilber


7 Critic Reviews

“Rawhide Down” is a fast-paced book that captures many points of view. Nurses and medical technicians have especially candid memories of the pressure they faced...
-NY Times


A Washington Post Notable Nonfiction Book for 2011
A Richmond Times Dispatch Top Book for 2011

A minute-by-minute account of the attempted assassination of Ronald Reagan, to coincide with the thirtieth anniversary

On March 30, 1981, President Ronald Reagan was just seventy days into his first term of office when John Hinckley Jr. opened fire outside the Washington Hilton Hotel, wounding the president, press secretary James Brady, a Secret Service agent, and a D.C. police officer. For years, few people knew the truth about how close the president came to dying, and no one has ever written a detailed narrative of that harrowing day. Now, drawing on exclusive new interviews and never-before-seen documents, photos, and videos, Del Quentin Wilber tells the electrifying story of a moment when the nation faced a terrifying crisis that it had experienced less than twenty years before, the assassination of President John F. Kennedy.

With cinematic clarity, we see Secret Service agent Jerry Parr, whose fast reflexes saved the president's life; the brilliant surgeons who operated on Reagan as he was losing half his blood; and the small group of White House officials frantically trying to determine whether the country was under attack. Most especially, we encounter the man code-named "Rawhide," a leader of uncommon grace who inspired affection and awe in everyone who worked with him.

Ronald Reagan was the only serving U.S. president to survive being shot in an assassination attempt.* Rawhide Down is the first true record of the day and events that literally shaped Reagan's presidency and sealed his image in the modern American political firmament.

*There have been many assassination attempts on U.S. presidents, four of which were successful: Abraham Lincoln, James A. Garfield, William McKinley, and John F. Kennedy. President Theodore Roosevelt was injured in an assassination attempt after leaving office.


About Del Quentin Wilber

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Del Quentin Wilber is an award-winning reporter for The Washington Post. He has spent most of his career covering law enforcement and sensitive security issues, and his work has been a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize. He lives in Washington, D.C., with his wife and two sons. Visit the website for Rawhide Down at www.RawhideDown.com.
Published March 15, 2011 by Henry Holt and Co.. 321 pages
Genres: Biographies & Memoirs, History, Political & Social Sciences, Sports & Outdoors, War. Non-fiction
Bestseller Status:
Peak Rank on Apr 17 2011
Weeks as Bestseller
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Critic reviews for Rawhide Down
All: 7 | Positive: 6 | Negative: 1


Above average
Reviewed by Chris Holmes on May 30 2011

In approaching his subject with the analytical and detailed approach expected of a newspaper reporter, Wilber missed a real opportunity to dig just a little deeper into the mind of someone who almost became Mark David Chapman and Lee Harvey Oswald in one twisted package...Still...Rawhide Down is a great read.

Read Full Review of Rawhide Down | See more reviews from Kirkus

Publishers Weekly

on Mar 07 2011

The author draws from a multitude of notes and sources, offering a fascinating glimpse of a pivotal moment in history.

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NY Times

Reviewed by Janet Maslin on Mar 09 2011

“Rawhide Down” is a fast-paced book that captures many points of view. Nurses and medical technicians have especially candid memories of the pressure they faced...

Read Full Review of Rawhide Down | See more reviews from NY Times

The Washington Post

Reviewed by David Baldacci on Mar 11 2011

Wilber does an excellent job of putting the principal characters through their paces. Although the book ostensibly covers only one day, it actually deals with a larger historical footprint.

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Dallas News

Reviewed by CARL P. LEUBSDORF on Mar 19 2011

Augmenting the detailed official records and oral histories recounting the day’s events with his own extensive interviews, Wilber, a reporter at The Washington Post, provides a tense, riveting account of that day.

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Reviewed by Peter Shawn Taylor on Mar 29 2011

It is a moment well remembered from contemporary news coverage. But Wilber manages to provide a wealth of fresh information on that traumatic event.

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The New Yorker

Above average
Reviewed by JEFFREY TOOBIN on Mar 28 2011

The book is meant to mark the thirtieth anniversary of the events, but the portrait of John Hinckley seems timely.

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